What's in My Food – Discovering Food Labels

Healthy eating begins with knowing the facts about what you are putting in your mouth. When daddy and mummy bring you for grocery shopping, you may be so excited about choosing your favourite food that you overlook an important step, reading food labels.

It is important for you to read the food labels so that you can get more information and understand the food you eat. Let's explore what is stated on food labels!

What are on the food package?

Label Eng

Brand and Name of the Food Product

Every packaged food must have brand and name of the product stated on the package so that you know what is inside the package. The name must be accurate and not misinform or deceive the consumer.

For example, a food with an image of a banana on the label must contain banana. If it contains banana flavouring rather than real banana, it must be labelled as banana-flavoured.

Net Weight of the Product

The net weight is an actual weight of the food product content. If it is a solid food product, it is given in gram (g) or kilogram (kg). If it is a fluid product, it is given in mililiter (ml) or liter (l).

Ingredients List

The ingredients list shows the ingredients used in producing the food product. The ingredients must be listed in descending order according to the amount used, from the most to the least. Food additives like preservative, food colouring and food flavouring must also be listed together in the ingredients list.

Besides that, it is important to know that some ingredients may be known by a different name, for example, sugar is also known as sucrose, honey, syrup, molasses, maltodextrin and others.

Date Marking

The date marking tells the end date of the quality assurance period on freshness of the food product. There are a few terms which are usually used, such as expiry date, used by, consumed by and best before.

Always make sure that you do not purchase packaged food product that has past its expiry date.

Nutrition Information Panel (NIP)

The nutrition information panel (NIP) provides a list of nutrients found in the food. In Malaysia, the packaged food product is mandatory to list down the energy, carbohydrate, protein and fat content.

However, the content of other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre can also be listed in the panel. You can use this panel to compare the nutrients contained in the food you choose to make sure you make the healthier choice.

Concentrate on the nutrients that you should eat more, such as food that is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is good for your health.

Serving Sizes

Keep an eye on the serving size of the food product. Serving sizes differ on each food label and may not equal to the serving size you normally eat. If you eat twice of the serving listed on the label, you need to double all the numbers in the NIP.

When you are comparing the nutritional value of different brands of similar foods, always compare the products based on 100g (solid food product) or 100ml (fluid product). Beware of using serving sizes to compare as it may differ between brands.

Name and Address of the Manufacturer/Importer

It is legally required to show the name and full address of the manufacturer/importer of the food product. These information can be used as a reference if there is any problems or safety risk issue related to the food product.

Front-of-Pack Labelling for the Energy Icon

FOP

Some of the food packages have the Front-of-Pack labelling for Energy icon to show the calorie content for one serving of the food product and the percentage it contributes to the recommended daily requirement (2000kcal).

Reading food labels helps you understand the food you eat and compare the food values of similar products, thus helping you to choose healthier and nutritious food. Let's start to be a smart shopper today by getting in the habit of checking out food labels of the food products that you buy. You can make a better food choice!

You might also like